Croatia is a popular summer holiday destination in our region (South-East Europe) so it was clear for us to drive there and check what offers the Adriatic Sea for underwater addicts! Hope you will enjoy our post , the photos and maybe you will get a feel to visit this country!
General Croatia and Adriatic Sea infos
It does not matter you are looking for adventures on the land or in the water, you can’t make wrong decision if you come to Croatia and spend a few days here. The climate is continental and mediterran. The season starts late spring and ends late autumn, but only the hottest summer months are recommended if would like to enjoy swimming or snorkeling in the Adriatic Sea. (By the way, diving is possible almost every time, but only in double wetsuit or in dry suit).
The sea surface temperature ranges from 22 to 28 oC (72 to 82 oF) during the summer and 12 to 14 oC (54 to 57 oF ) in the winter. During extremely cold winters ice may appear in the shallow coastal areas. To be honest, in the middle of August the surface temperature was only 24 oC (75 oF) during the hottest dog-days and much colder in the deep, so was not so comfortable after one hour of snorkeling. If you would like to stay longer in the water, could be good to take a wetsuit just in case and if you feel the water cold, you can wear it. It is part of the truth that we stayed on an northern island, the sea could be a bit warmer in the south.
Croatia has an extreme long coast contains more than 1000 islands. What a wide selection to choose a holiday destination!
We spent one week in August,2015 on Krk Island in the town of Krk. We choosed this island because it was one of nearest destination to us. Most tourists come by car to Croatia, so there is a big traffic on the highways in the peak season, that is the reason why we did not go south.
Krk Island located in the Bay of Kvarner, near Rijeka, it has been thought to be the largest island in the Adriatic Sea (405,8 km2 – 156,7 sq mi) but according to recent measurements, Cres, the neighboring island has equal size. Krk Island is a top summer destination , most tourists come from Italy, Hungary and Germany.
(You ask often what type of camera do we use underwater. The here posted photos we made with a waterproof compact – Nikon AW 120 – . We will make a short description about it soon!)
Snorkeling opportunities on Krk Island
Our main reason to come to Croatia was of course exploring the Adriatic Sea life. Snorkeling is a great activity, we were happy because we saw a lot of people with mask and fins , very young and older active ones as well!
There is only few type of corals in the Adriatic Sea. People say that formerly this sea was also full with corals and fish, but the climate changes and human activites destroyed almost everything 🙁 But if you are fanatic snorkelers, sure you will feel yourself good here discovering the interesting rocky coastline underwater with many crannies and caves. The sea bottom has also special characteristic, it looks like an underwater mountain. There are some sandy area, but it is not common (of course you can find some man-made sandy beaches). The sea bottom could be completely bare, grassy or covered with brown algae. On grassy places the visibility could be worse because million tiny parts are floating in the currents. You can see almost everywhere yellow tube sponges, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and different types of starfish. Sea anemonas are also visible almost everywhere and sea-silkwork can be found on some places.
Let’s see than the places we visited:
The Karaka is a restaurant directly on the beach not so far from the city centre of Krk. I am not sure that the Karaka Bay is the real name of this place, but everybody called it just “Karaka”. This is a huge free beach area with the restaurant in the middle. There is a car park next to the restaurant, but it is not free. You can take place on the main beach or there is a forest area on the right where you can spend the day comfortable in the shadow. If you walk in the forest, you will find many little bays where you can enter the water. This area is well-kept and clean, it was not crowded, we always found free space.
Here the sea bottom is covered with the Padiva Pavonica (brown algae) and there are some Neptun Grass beds , so the visibility is not the best especially when the water is wavy. You will find here red starfish, sea urchins, yellow tube sponges and different fish species of the Adriatic Sea. Check the little holes for the chance to spot an octopus!
If you walk left from the restaurant, there is a shallow sandy bay, great place for kids! Next to this sandy bay a campign can be found.
The Sveti Marek Bay is a popular diving and snorkeling beach. Normally the Sveti Marek beach is a wind-protected area, it is less often windy than other beaches on Krk Island. It can be found after the town of Risika. Many people come here every day, but we think the beach is big enough we found parking place easily (you must pay 15 HRK for parking). To enter the water is a bit dangerous, because you need to walk on the cliffs. The entrance is pebbly, be careful when walking in! If you are in the water, the only thing you need decide is in which direction will you start your snorkeling tour: You can look around in the middle, swim right alongshore or discover the left side.
In the middle there is a shallow, sandy area with sea cucumbers on the bottom. Here often beginner divers make training. You will see an intersting swim-through directly at the entrance on the right, it is funny to swim through this tiny tunnel!
The right side of the bay the underwater landscape is very impressive, you can feel yourself flying over green mountains. The sea is deep on this side, there are drop-offs. If the clarity is good, a small boat wreck is also visible (lies at 15 m -50 ft- deep).
We recommend swimming on the left side if you prefer shallow water. On the left there are small caves (we found one “half-cave” which was totally safe for swimming in and taking photos). On the cliffs there are almost everywhere common prawns, it is hard to spot hem because they disguise themselves perfectly, but if you find one and start to take photos it will fight with your camera, so funny! Differrent Adriatic Sea fish species also can be observed here, like Mediterranen Rainbow Wrasse, Painted Comber and Common Two-banded Seabeams. There are Mediterranean Snakelocks Anemomes almost everywhere in the Adriatic Sea, be careful because they have stinging cells and can be dangerous!
It is a huge, modern camping area but daily visitors also can come in and spend the day on this beach (there was a daily parking fee 30 HRK) There are more entrance point where you can go into the water and you can swim as long as you want. The sea was calm, visibility was perfect. We started to swim to the left, where we liked the unique sea bottom, the underwater view vas very special. The bottom was totally bare and full with black sea urchins.
Perfect shallow area, also recommended for novice snorkelers! In the afternoon we made an other tour to the right side. On the right the sea bottom is not bare, covered with brown sea algae. The water is deeper, but if you stay close to the shore after few hundred metres you will find a nice bay where the cliffs are white. Swim into this area and check the crystal clear water and tiny caves underwater.
This is a picturesque beach between hills not so far from Punat. It is recommended to arrive early in the morning, because in the peak-season it can be crowded and take a beach umbrella with you, there is no shadow on the beach. (Parking was free at that time)
The Stara Baska is a wide bay, you can snorkel in the left and in the right direction as well. The underwater landscape is very similar in both direction, you will meet different Adriatic Sea fish species, sea cucumbers, little crabs here and there are yellow tube sponges on the bottom. The sea temperature was a bit lower here around 22 oC (72 oF) due to currents but the clarity was excellent.
If you have time it is worth to walk up the hills, enjoy the view and the stunning shades of the blue water!
We hope you enjoyed our “croatian summary”. The Adriatic Sea is not a tropical water, but it has also interesting sea life and there is always something interesting to see. Of course there are many other great snorkeling beaches on Krk, we had no time to discover each of them. If you would like to visit Croatia, our personal opinion is to avoid the main summer month, August. The most people come in this month so the traffic was really big on the highways and in the towns as well. Come end of Jun or in July, in these months the area is not full! Early autumn could be also a good period, when the weather and sea temperature is still fine but there are less tourists and the off season prices are also lower.